Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus — The True Reason for the Season

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’ ” (Luke 2:10-11)

        “I don’t want anything religious,” a young woman snapped, as she and her friend searched for boxed Christmas cards at a Walmart store a few years ago.
        My heart sunk.
        She wanted cards that said Happy Holidays on them — the more generic, politically correct phrase that so many people say these days to avoid offending anyone. She didn’t want cards that talked about Jesus. I wanted to pull her to the side and explain that those religious cards she referred to really aren’t religious. They’re proclamations of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who shed his blood and died for our sins, so we may have everlasting life. I wish I had the nerve to share this Good News that day with that young woman. But I didn’t.
        There are so many people in the world who don’t know Jesus. Who need to hear the good news of great joy. And this is the perfect season to tell people about Him. So many have the wrong idea about Jesus. Some say He is a prophet, a good teacher, but no way is He Lord. They don’t realize that Jesus is Lord, and that by placing their faith in Him for salvation, they will have everlasting life — the greatest gift of all. No Christmas gift on earth surpasses the greatness of everlasting life. Not a one!
        Christmas is just a few days away. As we decorate our Christmas trees, and buy and wrap our presents, let’s not forget the true meaning of the season — that a Savior was born to give us the true, incredible gift.

        Let’s also remember to share this Good News whenever the opportunity presents itself. If we don’t feel comfortable sharing the love and the gift of eternal life with strangers, try to share this with family members and friends. Most would agree that everyone wants to hear good news these days. After we share it, pray that they will receive the gift of God and unwrap its eternal treasures that will last forevermore!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Power of Prayer Partners

 “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

       More than two decades ago, if you were to tell me that, Pam, one of my best buddies from college, would be my ace prayer partner and confidante today, I wouldn’t have believed you. Sure, we were great friends in college among the many we hung out with, but we were unsaved and in full party mode.
       About 10 years after we graduated, we lost touch with one another. Nine long years had passed, and one day, to my pleasant surprise, I received an invitation to attend her wedding. “He asked … She said ‘Yes!” said the inscription on the front page of the invitation. “Marriage is singing praises to Jesus with the one you love. … It is with much rejoicing that … we will write our lives as one with Him and place our future in our Lord’s sovereign hands,” said the poem on the second page. “Wow!” I thought. “I’m so happy Pam invited me to her wedding. I think she might be saved!”
        After attending her wedding and waiting for her to return from her honeymoon, we began to call each other on a regular basis. We shared our testimonies about how we received the Lord, how He was working in our lives, and the challenges life was sending our way. Soon, we began reading scripture and praying together at the end of our conversations. Before we knew it, praying together on the phone and even fasting and praying together on our lunch hour, when we used to work around the corner from each other, became a habit. And we’ve been praying together almost daily ever since for the past seven years.
       What a journey it’s been. Our prayer time has truly transformed us as women of God from the inside out.

Hearts of Flesh
       We’re more loving toward others, joyful, peaceful, compassionate, merciful, tenderhearted, and forgiving. We’re more aware of our own sin, and we’re able to speak into each other’s lives and correct one another if we sense one of us is heading in a direction that’s out of God’s will. And we can do this without getting offended.

Long Past Milk and Veggies
       We’ve grown spiritually as we’ve read the Word together and have seen God’s handprint in all aspects of our lives. We’ve gotten to know the Lord more intimately and have grown closer to Him and each other. On a few occasions, God has actually spoken to us individually about each other before we revealed anything to the other.

Answered Prayer
       We’ve seen God lead, guide and direct us and answer our prayers in amazing ways. Like when God blessed us with new jobs after enduring difficult career situations; motivated our children to do better in school and attend church, improved relationships between our family members, brought peace to our marriages, healed those who were sick, and drew a couple of our friends into a relationship with Him. Recently, we’ve seen signs of Pam’s daughter wanting to develop her own relationship with the Lord and planning to go back to school — all because we’ve prayed together. 

Tapping into the Power
       What we’ve learned is that prayer is powerful. As Christians, we often don’t take advantage of this relational gift God gives us to communicate with Him, nor do we realize just how powerful it is, especially if we’ve been praying for something for a long time, and our circumstances haven’t yet changed. But as time passes, and we look back, we realize God was working on our behalf the entire time even when we didn’t see it.
       Because there’s so much power in praying with a friend, I urge every Christian to find a prayer partner: guys included. Prayer partners are lavish gifts from God. Priceless. Jesus knew the power of praying together, as He promised to always be in our midst when we pray. Another bonus: Our friendships with our prayer partners, built on the foundation of Christ, will last forever.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of prayer. While individual prayer is powerful, praying with a trusted friend is even more so, because you promise to give us your presence and the answers in your perfect timing. Thank you for desiring a relationship with us through your son Jesus. In His name, Amen!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks in Everything!

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

          As we do our last minute grocery shopping for the delicious Thanksgiving feast this coming Thursday, or prepare to travel to break bread and spend time with family and friends, let's remember to do so with thankful hearts.
          We all know that giving thanks is something we should do every day no matter what, especially during the holiday season. But we also know giving thanks isn't always easy, especially when the busyness and stress of the holidays rob us of the peace and tranquility the Lord wants us to have. It's especially difficult to be thankful if we're going through some really tough times. But even in the midst of the stress and the challenges we face, the Lord wants us to give thanks. Not necessarily for the stress and problems we might be experiencing, but for going through them with Him, our refuge and strength. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. God is the only one who can give us the strength and the wisdom we need to get through our dark times.
          If you're not going through any difficulties at the moment, praise God! If you are going through a difficult trial, praise God anyway! Begin to thank Him for the food you eat each day; for friends and family; your church home; your job, or the new one that's on the way; for the money you have in the bank; for your health; your children; your car; your home, and the breath you just took.
          As you begin to thank the Lord for all of these blessings, your problems will seem smaller and God will seem greater. You'll realize you're not as bad off as you thought you were, and that there's still hope. "By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me - a prayer to the God of my life. ... Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:8,11).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for all of the blessings you give us each day. Help us to remember each and every one as we travel through this journey we call life. Thank you for the holiday season, a time we can reconnect with family and friends and truly focus on you. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is Your Heart on Fire for God Like the Burning Bush?

“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3:1-3)

          When Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock, heading out to the far side of the desert, he was pleasantly surprised by the incredible sight he’d never seen before and would never see again: a burning bush.
          As the fall season peaks, I, too, am pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous, fiery red leaves of the burning bush shrubs that illuminate my neighborhood and the nearby shopping centers. Did you know that the burning bush (Euonymus alata “compactus”) is one of the great beauties of the autumn season, distinguished by its vibrant scarlet foliage and small red-orange fruit? (Source: http://phillipoliver.net/burningbush.htm)  Some burning bush shrubs can grow six to 10 feet; others as tall as 15 feet or more. Their 1- to 3-inch long leaves help radiate their vibrant color, setting them apart from all other plants and trees.

          When I think about the flames of fire emanating from the burning bush Moses saw at the mountain of God and the fiery red color of the burning bush shrubs of the fall season, two poignant questions come to mind: As children of God, are our hearts on fire for the Lord? Are we serving Him with fervor — with zeal?
          The Lord says we’re not to lack in zeal but keep our spiritual fervor, serving Him (Romans 12:11).  Remember Jesus’ disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection? They had followed Jesus during his three-year ministry, listened to him preach the gospel, and witnessed his incredible miracles. But they still doubted who Jesus was and why he came, as the Lord discerned while speaking with them about the events that led to his crucifixion and resurrection and about the scriptures concerning himself. Only after Jesus disappeared from their sight at the dinner table did the disciples realize who He was and that everything He said about himself was true. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

          Do our hearts burn within us when we hear, read, and live out the scriptures in our everyday lives? If not, they should. Jesus wants us hot, not cold (Revelation 3:15). If our hearts are on fire for the Lord, that is wonderful. If it used to be on fire, and we notice the fire is slowly but surely going out, don’t worry. We can rekindle that fire by asking God to fan the flames through individual and group bible study and prayer, staying connected with other believers in a small group, and serving those in need in your community.  
          Remember, the Lord loves you. Seek Him first in all you do, and soon your heart will warm up and be on fire to serve Him and others around you. And you will be blessed.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please keep our hearts warm toward you. Set our hearts ablaze so we can serve you with passion, and share your love and compassion with others. In Jesus’ name, amen! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Restored Self-esteem

“A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman — who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels, and her value is far above rubies or pearls.” (Proverbs 31:10)

       “Why am I always messing up?” I asked the Lord, sobbing, following a terrible misunderstanding I had with someone recently who called me a few choice words. “I can’t seem to do anything right. I’m always making mistakes.”
       I was crushed.
       I sent a text message to one of my best friends to give her a hint about what happened. I was too upset to talk, so I told her not to call me. Just pray. Of course, she called me anyway. Tears spilled down my face as she read Psalm 59 and prayed for me.

Perfect Peace
       After our call, I felt some sense of peace, so I began searching the Web for a bible study I was thinking about introducing to my women’s group — only to realize it was out of print. I called the publisher to see if it had any study guides in stock. No such luck. The gentleman on the phone suggested a similar study written by the same author.
As I read the first few pages of the excerpt online, I gasped. You are a “capable, intelligent and virtuous woman,” the Lord said. No matter what anyone thinks. You are my precious daughter. Holy. Innocent. Righteous.
       Instantly, my spirit soared!

Whisper of Sweet Nothings
       The Lord also said everyone makes mistakes, but don’t dwell on your shortcomings or condemn yourself. You’re forgiven and free of guilt. You’re the apple of My eye and surrounded with My favor.
       I smiled from ear to ear.
       The next day, I discovered a Christian bookstore that sold 8½ x 11-inch single sheets of stationery with various scripture messages on them. I saw one that featured Proverbs 31with the words “A Virtuous Woman” displayed in bold across the top. It now hangs prominently in my cubicle at work and on my bathroom wall at home as a reminder of what God says about me. 

God of All Comfort
       God’s Word met me right where I was that dreadful day — far down in the pit of despair. He healed my broken heart — and He promises to do the same for you. So when your world seemingly falls apart, cry out to the one who loves you perfectly. He will lift you up and give you a firm place on which to stand. 

Prayer: Thank you Lord for loving us so much, for seeing the best in us no matter what mistakes we make or what anyone says about us. And most of all, thank you for answering us in our desperate times. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please Visit My New Photography Blog!

Hi Everyone!

     It's official. I've started my new photography blog. So exciting!

     When you visit, you will enter a world of beautiful images of God's glorious creation. I invite you on my newfound journey to marvel at interesting and, sometimes not so interesting, photographs I'll be taking with my camera. Please visit me often and enjoy the view! The URL is http://www.judysphotogallery.blogspot.com.

Like some of you, I love photography and have always dreamed of launching a photography website to showcase my work. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've rediscovered this long lost hobby and am pursuing it like never before. I really would love to have everyone who is following this blog to follow my photography blog as well. I look forward to hearing from all of you and reading your comments. Thank you so much. Hope to see you at my second home!



Friday, October 22, 2010

Mourning the Loss of my Friend

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

          “Good-bye, Michele,” I said in my heart as I looked upon her casket.  
          She didn’t look anything like I had remembered. The multiple surgeries and the chemotherapy took a huge toll.
          Tears poured down my face as I quickly turned away and rushed toward the pews to find a seat. I rifled through my handbag to find some tissues. I wanted to bolt out of the sanctuary and stand outside in the church’s foyer or parking lot to relieve my pain.

Fighting for her Life
          My friend had been fighting cancer for about four years. She lost the battle last week, and the Lord called her home. The news of her passing hit me like a brick. I didn’t want to believe it. I regretted that we hadn't been in touch with one another, and I didn't know how sick she was. I prayed for God to strengthen her husband, children, extended family members and her friends (myself included) who loved her. I didn’t know how I or anyone else was going to get through today, but the Lord was with us.

Comforting Words
          When I got up at 5 am this morning to pray, the Lord reminded me that I didn’t have to grieve like those who have no hope. Michele was saved and now at home with Him, and I’d see her again. The Lord also reminded me that she was actually alive even though she had passed away (John 11:25-26). Suddenly, I had some peace, and I felt confident that I’d be able to face the day.

Good ol' Times
          Michele was a wonderful person. She loved to cook, entertain, laugh, dance and hang out with the girls. We had some good times together.
          Her funeral was bittersweet. The officiating pastor comforted everyone with the Word of God, and, boy, did she preach the gospel. And even though my husband and I mourned the loss of our friend, we were reunited with old friends of ours we hadn’t seen in 10 years. We were so happy to see everyone. We hugged, kissed, cried, laughed and reminisced about the good times we used to have. After the repast, we took pictures, promised to share them through email, and keep in touch. I can’t wait for all of us to see each other again.
          Today, I learned the importance of celebrating my friend’s life, remembering the good times, and not forgetting that she is with the Lord in glory. I also learned that God can turn your sorrow into joy in an instant — even at a funeral. Only our God can do that. May we praise His Holy Name!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Season for Everything

“And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye” (Genesis 2:9).

     “Where did the summer go?” I sighed, as August ended and the month of September began. Now it’s October, soon to be November. Every year, I feel so sad when the hot weather gives way to the cooler, colder windy days and nights of autumn. Summer is my favorite season. I can wear shorts, tank tops, sandals, visit the beach, swim, enjoy the sunshine, go for early evening walks and watch the sunset at 9 pm instead of 7 pm. For me, autumn has always been a bleak sign that the freezing cold winter is fast approaching. The shorter days. Bare trees. The snow. Cabin fever. Ugh!
     But this fall season my perspective changed.
     Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt a strong desire to focus on the vibrant colors of the leaves and photograph them in all their splendor. For the most part, I’ve always sort of admired the fall foliage. But for some strange reason, this year the leaves really wooed me.
     The fiery reds and oranges, deep burgundies, vibrant yellows, golds, and browns came alive — especially through the lens of my camera.
     The multicolored leaves speak volumes of the Lord’s creative handiwork. The deep green leaves of summer miraculously transform into a veritable rainbow, a painter’s palette of vivid hues and tones. It’s so characteristic of our Lord to give us such a beautiful, transitional season to enjoy right before winter.  
     As I marveled at the brilliant foliage, I wondered, “How do the deep green leaves change into such a beautiful array of colors?” (I learned about this in science class years ago, but I forgot the details.)
     According to http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/leaves.html, leaves are nature’s food factories. Plants take water from the ground through their roots and carbon dioxide from the air. They use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Plants use this glucose as food for energy and as a building block for growth. The manner in which plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar is called photosynthesis, which somehow involves the chemical chlorophyll that’s responsible for giving plants their green color.

     As the days get shorter and shorter, the trees instinctively know it’s time to prepare for winter (Genesis 1:14). No longer is there enough light or water for photosynthesis, so the trees turn off their food-making machines, the chlorophyll disappears from their leaves, and the glorious yellows, reds and oranges emerge. Interestingly, small amounts of these colors are already in the leaves. We just can’t see them in the summer, because the chlorophyll dominates.
     So even if you’re a lover of the hot weather like me, don’t let this autumn season pass you by without stopping and enjoying the colorful landscape the Lord has painted. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the fall season and wonder why you didn’t take much notice before. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Godly Lessons from a Spider and Its Web?

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.” (Job 8:13-15)

Recently, my husband discovered a large spider hanging in a web that was blocking the entrance to our deck in the back of our home. Amazed at the size of this creature, I ran to get my camera to see if I could get a good macro shot. After analyzing the photos I took, I wondered what scripture said about these eight-legged arachnids.
Surprisingly, the passage I found was a warning for all of us: We are not to leave the Lord Jesus out of our lives. Without Him we have no hope. We are to rely on Him and Him only, because if we don’t, whatever we choose to lean on will fall apart.
I always believed spider webs were pretty sturdy. According to dandydesigns.org, spider web material is about one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, but it has incredible strength. It is 10 times stronger than a strand of steel of the same weight. Sounds pretty strong, huh? But the truth is webs don’t remain that way. A freshly spun web is silk-like, extremely elastic and sticky, so it can trap all sorts of prey. But after a short while, the web loses its stickiness and elasticity, breaks apart and can no longer capture prey.

Just as the spider’s web eventually loses it strength and gives way, so will anything we lean on other than the Lord. Many people rely solely on their jobs, bank accounts, material possessions, friends, family members, good reputations, academic titles and college degrees for security. But all of these things are fragile and will not provide a firm foundation — or any hope. Only our Lord can give us these things. So the next time you see a spider in its web, let it be a reminder to lean on the Lord, for He is our strength and our ultimate hope who will never give way. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beauty in the Clouds

“Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you.” (Job 35:5)

          Isn’t God’s creation breathtaking? I took this shot this past summer just when the sun was about to set. Before I focused on the sun, this cloud formation captivated me. One thing I’ve learned is that the sky never looks the same from one day to the next. God always surprises us with his endless, infinite creativity. He paints the sky with a variety of colors and hues, uses broad and fine brush strokes to add interesting elements, such as the puffy white clouds, highlighting them with various shades of light. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Waiting Upon the Lord

“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) AMP

        Are you waiting for something big from God? Something you’ve been praying about for a long time? Or, maybe a short time, and the answer hasn’t yet come?
        I am. And I know others who are doing the same. You may be praying for the salvation of friends and family members, a new job, healing, the right husband, the right wife, guidance and direction, wisdom, resources for ministry, a more loving marriage, your children, or a breakthrough in your finances. Whatever you’re praying for, it’s tough to wait on the Lord, isn’t it?
        I’m waiting on the Lord right now for something to come through this week that I believe may not happen because of a possible mistake I made. God made all the arrangements, but because of what I did, now it may not happen.
         But the Lord is telling me to wait on Him and trust Him to act on my behalf. Stop worrying and be confident that He has heard my prayers and will answer my prayers according to His will and based on His perfect plan for my life. Such an awesome message, but oh so hard to do.
        As we wait on the Lord, always remind Him of His promises as we pray (Isaiah 62:6). When our prayers are based on His promises, we can be sure we will receive an answer (Psalm 145:13b; 1 John 5:14-15).
        Are you waiting on the Lord for something big? If so, trust that He’s listening, and that He will answer you in His perfect timing.
        Let me know if you’re waiting on God for something special and how you’re handling it. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Surefooted as a Deer

“God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” (Psalm 18:32-33)

        On a beautiful, hot sunny day last month, my husband, son, and I headed to a nearby park to eat a picnic lunch, go for a scenic drive and take photos with my new camera. 
       The lush green rolling hills and the variety of tall trees took my breath away. The best part of the trip was getting to see the deer grazing peacefully along the roadside. We got up close and personal, and they didn’t flinch.

"A loving doe, a graceful deer ..." (Proverbs 5:19)
       For some reason, I love deer. They fascinate me. I believe they’re one of the Lord’s most elegant creatures on earth. They’re pretty. Graceful. Regal. Some, almost statuesque.
       From the car window, I snapped several pictures, using my 200-mm zoom lens. Got great shots.
       As I marveled at the pictures I took of the deer, I remembered God’s promises to us when we’re feeling weary and stressed because of life’s many challenges. We’re to ask Jesus for renewed physical and emotional strength whenever we need it, because He’s the only one who can give it to us. He promises to make us “as surefooted as a deer.” That means He won’t let us stumble or slip. Instead, He toughens us up and makes us confident — and competent. He promises to help us "stand on mountain heights." That means, we’re able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.

"I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my
strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He
will make me walk on my high hills." (Habakkuk 3:18-19)

       What more can we ask for? Obviously, God knows something about deer that we don’t. Deer generally have lithe, compact bodies, but long, powerful legs, suited to walk, run and climb rugged woodland terrain. That's the kind of power we all need to navigate the sometimes rough terrain of our lives. The good news is that God can give us that power. And as long as we receive it from Him, we will be victorious!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can God Really Move Mountains?

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed.” (Isaiah 40:3-4)
“I am so exhausted!” said my dear friend and prayer partner some weeks ago. “My job takes everything out of me. The meetings. The long hours. The paperwork. My boss.
“I feel like God wants me to go to seminary and serve in leadership in my church, but I don’t know how that’s ever going to happen. I don’t have the energy or even the time to take that first step.”
Unfortunately, I often feel the same way my friend does. Overwhelmed. Stressed. Anxious. Frustrated. Worried that I’ll never be able to serve the Lord the way He wants me to.
After speaking with my friend and spending some time alone in prayer, the Lord assured me that He could move the mountains in our lives to not only serve him in ways we never dreamed of, but we could ask Him for the seemingly impossible and He would do it (Luke 1:37).
First, the Lord reminded me that all we need is faith as small as a mustard seed and say to the mountains in our lives, “Move from here to there, and [they] would move. Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20-21). But God said only his Spirit would move our mountains, not our own strength (Zechariah 4:6).

Mountain-moving Power
The Lord showed me just how powerful He is when it comes to moving mountains in the book of Zechariah concerning Zerubbabel, whose mission was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem after the release of the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity. Zerubbabel faced great opposition, but the Lord assured him, “Nothing, not even a mighty mountain will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will flatten out before him!” (Zechariah 4:7) In other words, the temple would be rebuilt by the power of God, and nothing would stand in the way.
God reminded me of a similar situation Nehemiah faced when the people of Israel returned to Jerusalem following Babylonian captivity. Nehemiah, a mere slave at the time, prayed his heart out, asking God to give him favor in the eyes of the King so he could ask him for the seemingly impossible: to take time off to oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls that were destroyed during the Babylonian invasion; for protection while he traveled to Jerusalem; for permission to haul timber to reconstruct the walls and build a residence for himself (Nehemiah 1; 2:1-8).

Overcoming Obstacles
And guess what? The Lord gave him favor, and the King gave Nehemiah everything he asked for (Nehemiah 2:1-10). But the story doesn’t end there. Nehemiah faced great obstacles. The enemies of Israel fought him and the Jewish people tooth and nail to stop them from rebuilding the city walls. But despite the fierce opposition, the walls were eventually rebuilt. God’s ultimate will prevailed (Nehemiah 4, 5, 6).
The lesson for us all is that no matter what mountains or obstacles we face (ex., a tremendous workload, a job loss, limited resources, family opposition, physical/mental exhaustion, or even depression), just know the work God has prepared for us to do will be completed. His work through us may experience delays, but in the end we will complete all the tasks he gives us as we persevere and don’t give up. And if we ask Him for the seemingly impossible, He will do it. Why? Because God’s plans can’t be stopped (Job 42:2)!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Emotional Aftermath: Tiger Woods' Divorce

“ … and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love” (Proverbs 5:18b-19)

            “Money can’t buy happiness. Or put my family back together,” lamented Elin Nordegren, Tiger Woods’ now ex-wife, in an exclusive interview with People magazine, in which she opened up about her marriage and how it all fell apart. After reading the highly publicized article, “My Journey,” which graced newsstands the week ending Sept. 6th, I gained a brand new perspective of Elin as a mother and as a married woman.
            Some people may say, “Huh, she has nothing to worry about. It’s better to be divorced and rich than divorced and poor.” That may be true, but as Elin said no amount of money can put her marriage and family back together. Not even the reported $100 million plus settlement she received from Tiger.
            I feel compassion for Elin. Tiger’s adulterous affairs rocked her world, breaking her heart. “I loved him,” Elin recalled. “We had so much fun. … Our wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life.”
When she found out about Tiger’s multiple sexcapades, she said she was in “absolute shock and disbelief.” She didn’t suspect a thing. Which is quite possible since Tiger often traveled.
“It’s hard to think you have this life,” Elin said, “and then all of a sudden — was it a lie? … I have been through stages of disbelief and shock and ultimate grief over the loss of my family I so badly wanted for my children.”
I can’t imagine what it must be like to find out your husband (or wife) had never been faithful throughout your entire marriage. Elin said, she went “through hell” in the months leading up to the divorce.

Foolish Choices
            What in the world was Tiger thinking?
            Did he actually believe he’d get away with such egregious adultery? He didn’t just have a one-night stand or a relationship with one woman. He had ongoing sexual relationships with at least three women in the early years of his marriage and sexual relations with 10 others — or maybe more!  “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (Proverbs 6:27-28) The answer is no.

            The Lord gives men a stern warning about falling into adultery: “Keep to a path far from her; do not go near the door of her house. … Many are the victims she has brought down” (Proverbs 5:8; 7:26). If only Tiger had heeded that warning. His life would’ve turned out differently. His marriage would still be intact; he wouldn’t have had to split up his children (See “Restoring Fathers to Fatherhood” below) or his finances, and he wouldn’t have lost his reputation and his integrity.
            How could Tiger not have known that being married and having affairs was wrong and that his behavior was risky and destructive? That he was in grave danger of losing everything? “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away” (Proverbs 6:32-33).
            His shame will never be wiped away?!
            Tiger held his head in great shame when he made his public apology to the world in February. And he’s been holding his head in greater shame on the golf course in recent months, as he’s long lost his winning streak: He didn’t come close to winning the Masters, and he scored 18 over par and tied for 78th place at the W. G. C. Bridgestone Invitational, the worst golf game he’s ever played in his entire professional career.
            It’s amazing when the truth of God’s Word unfolds right before your eyes.
            My prayer for Elin, Tiger and their children is that they would come to know the forgiveness found in Christ, and that the power of Christ would heal their broken hearts, restore their lives, strength and peace. In His Name, Amen!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Restoring Fathers to Fatherhood

“A father to the fatherless …”  (Psalm 68:5)

            I had the pleasure of visiting my former church home this past Labor Day weekend. This was the church where I responded to an altar call 12 years ago and received Christ. The church will always have a special place in my heart.
            I got a chance to hug the pastor and his wife and say hello to a few others I hadn’t seen in years.
The praise and worship songs were awesome. My son and I, and my father felt God’s power and presence. We all clapped our hands during the worship songs and held hands and prayed as the Pastor and others on the pulpit prayed.
But the best part of all was the powerful message. The Senior Pastor preached on Restoring Fathers to Fatherhood. He stressed the importance of fathers in the home; how important it is for fathers to be married and serve as godly husbands, providing for their children, and being there for them spiritually, emotionally, educationally, socially.
Too many of our children grow up without fathers and the social, emotional, and spiritual repercussions are shocking. Young boys are more likely to lead lives of crime, be incarcerated, experiment with drugs, drop out of school and have behavioral problems compared with those who grow up with fathers in the home.
Young girls are more likely to become pregnant before marriage and pursue unhealthy dating relationships because they are starved of the love of a father. And what’s even more heartbreaking is that they are more likely to be sexually assaulted because of the boyfriends their mothers allow without discretion in their homes. The Pastor said these tragedies disproportionately impact the lives of African Americans and Hispanics.
According to the Word of God, the family unit should include a mother and father to raise children. It isn’t right for young men to have babies without first being husbands, because God calls all men to be husbands first and fathers second. Not the other way around.
In order for fathers to ensure the emotional, educational and spiritual well being of their children, the Pastor said they must do the following:

1. Provide for their children and family. (1 Timothy 5:8)
2. Pray for their children
3. Protect their children (Matthew 17:15)
4. Encourage their children (Matthew 3:17)
5. Discipline their children (Proverbs 22:15)
6. Portray a godly role model.

The Pastor encouraged everyone that even if you come from a fatherless home, there is still hope. After all, God watched over many of you your entire lives and enabled you to succeed despite the odds. He reminded us that God will never leave you nor forsake you and is there for you to heal you and carry you along the way (Psalm 27:9-10).
To those of us who grew up with their fathers in the home, the Pastor said to thank them for being in our lives. So after service, I thanked my dad. And I thanked my Heavenly Father for having the privilege of growing up with a loving, supportive father in the home.
Thanks daddy. I love you!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for everyone who grew up without a father in the home; who didn’t experience a father’s love, security and encouragement. Shower them with your fatherly love and compassion, heal their broken hearts, and bless them in every aspect of their lives. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Marveling at a Sunset

"My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun" (Malachi 1:11)

    In the beginning of the summer, I revisited my long lost hobby of photography. It had been almost 25 years since I had a 35-mm camera — or in today's terms, a DSLR — in my hands. Despite my hectic schedule of working long hours, caring for my family, and fighting debilitating exhaustion at the end of the day, I decided to wind down each evening with a stroll around my neighborhood with camera in hand — taking photos of people, places and things. That's when God opened my eyes to the beauty of the trees, flowers, landscapes, the sunrise and sunset He created. I never took pictures of a sunset or sunrise before or even thought much about zooming in on the intricate details of flowers and trees. But that was the Lord's means of directing my attention away from my troubles to Him and Him alone through the lens of my camera. And through that tiny lens, I saw the greatness and majesty of God!
     While focusing on Him as I walk through my neighborhood snapping away, my stress disappears and my strength and energy return.
     Imagine if we all did this at the end of a busy, trying day. Not necessarily take up photography, but perhaps focusing on God by listening to your favorite worship music, meditating on a bible passage, or praying with a friend. Whatever gets your attention on the Lord is all that matters, because when we focus on Him, He speaks to us when we least expect it and promises to give us rest.

     Prayer: Heavenly Father, may you help us direct our thoughts toward you in the morning and at the end of the day so our strength will be renewed. Amen!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Hello Everyone,

Welcome to my blog Walking With God!

I developed this blog to express how the power of God is working in my life, and how He will work and is working in yours. My writings will be devotional, sharing the messages the Lord gives me, and explaining how they relate to you, giving you encouragement and hope in the present and future. My prayer is that you will be inspired and develop a hunger for a more intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

So visit me often, read my posts and those of other visitors, and let God speak to you and show you how much He loves you. Enjoy your journey with Him. 

“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7)

I look forward to speaking with you soon!

In Him,
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